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National

  • Urlacher, Bears head separate ways

    CHICAGO (AP) — Brian Urlacher wanted to re-sign with the Chicago Bears.
    Instead, they’re parting ways with the veteran linebacker after 13 years.
    General manager Phil Emery said Wednesday that the team couldn’t agree on a contract with Urlacher, for years the heart and face of the franchise. He is now a free agent after being slowed by a knee problem and then missing the last four games of the season with a hamstring injury.
    “We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,” Emery said in a statement. “Brian has been an elite player in our league for over a decade. He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears.”
    The 34-year-old Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowl player, started 180 games from 2000 through 2012, recording a team-record 1,779 tackles. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 draft has 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles. He was the AP’s defensive player of the year in 2005 and helped lead the 2006 team to the Super Bowl.

  • Miami tops Boston for 23rd straight win

    BOSTON (AP) — LeBron James made the go-ahead jumper with 10.5 seconds left to lead the Miami Heat to their 23rd consecutive victory, the second-longest streak in NBA history, with a 105-103 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

    The Heat surpassed the 22 straight that Houston won in 2007-08 and trail only the 33 in a row won by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

    James scored 37 with 12 assists as the Heat won in Boston in the regular season for the first time in 11 tries despite a career-high 43 points from Jeff Green. The Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, who has the flu and a left thigh strain.

    Paul Pierce had 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Celtics. But he missed a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left that could have given Boston the win.

    Mario Chalmers scored 21 points for Miami, which has not lost since Feb. 1. The Heat had not won in Boston since the New Big Three was formed — including the Celtics' double-overtime victory on Jan. 27, when Ray Allen returned with his new team.

    That was the day Rajon Rondo was diagnosed with an ACL tear that ended his season. This time, it was Garnett who sat out, though coach Doc Rivers said he would have played if the thigh injury had not been compounded by the flu.

  • Baylor, ND, UConn, Stanford top NCAA women's seeds

    Brittney Griner and Baylor's path to a second straight national championship will have a familiar feel.

    Then again, so will the whole NCAA women's basketball tournament. For the first time ever, the top four seeds are the same for consecutive seasons. Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame and Stanford all earned No. 1 spots when the field was announced Monday night.

    Unlike the men's side, where it was a topsy-turvy season with major upsets seemingly every week, women's basketball hasn't seen the same parity. The top six teams in the final Associated Press poll only had two losses outside of each other, the fewest by far since writers began voting for the AP's No. 1 in the 1994-95 season.

    The women's basketball madness gets started Saturday — the first step en route to the Final Four, which begins April 7 in New Orleans.

  • Louisville Top Overall Seed in NCAA Tournament
  • Baltimore loses key players

    The Baltimore Ravens are paying the price for winning a Super Bowl.
    The NFL champions lost two key components of their defense, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, as free agency began Tuesday. On Monday, they traded star receiver Anquan Boldin, a key to their title run, to San Francisco — the team the Ravens beat 34-31 to win the championship.
    Kruger went north to division rival Cleveland for a five-year, $40 million deal, while Ellerbe headed south to Miami for $35 million over five years. Steelers receiver Mike Wallace joined Ellerbe in choosing the Dolphins.
    The 49ers didn’t go untouched, either. After giving up a sixth-round draft pick for Boldin, they saw tight end Delanie Walker leave for Tennessee.
    San Francisco also confirmed the trade of backup quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City, a deal that was known for weeks. The 49ers will receive the Chiefs’ second-round pick, 34th overall, in this year’s draft and a conditional pick in next year’s draft.
    The 32-year-old Boldin expressed surprise that he was traded.
    “I thought this was the last stop of my career but regardless of the circumstances I came here to win a Championship ... and in February we came home Champions,” he said on Twitter.
    Ellerbe also tweeted as he moved on to the Dolphins.

  • Johnson wins 2nd Daytona 500; Patrick finishes 8th

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.

    Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson reclaim his spot at the top in the end.

    Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in "The Great American Race" and was running third on the last lap, but slipped to eighth in the late push for position.

    Her fall began when Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his move, but his last-ditch effort wasn't enough to catch his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.

    There were several crashes during the day, none approaching the magnitude of the wreck that injured more than two dozen fans a day earlier in a second-tier race on the same track.

  • Danica Patrick wins pole for NASCAR's Daytona 500

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Danica Patrick has won the Daytona 500 pole, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR's top circuit.

    It was the biggest achievement of her stock-car career.

    "We have a lot more history to make and we're eager to do it," Patrick said.

    Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session Sunday and covered the 2½-mile superspeedway in 45.817 seconds, averaging 196.434 mph.

    She waited about two hours as 37 fellow drivers tried to take her spot. Only four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon even came close to knocking her off.

  • Pistorius' girlfriend was a model, law graduate

    JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The leggy blonde model tweeted that Valentine's Day should be "a day of love for everyone."

    Instead Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in the home of her boyfriend, paralympian superstar Oscar Pistorius, who was charged with her murder.

    Steenkamp, South African model with a law degree, campaigned against rape and violence against women. Thursday morning, Reeva Steenkamp was to give an inspirational talk at a Johannesburg school. The next day she was going to wear black to protest the brutal rape and mutilation of a 17-year-old.

    But the glamorous South African celebrity was found dead in the early hours from four bullet wounds in the Pretoria home of Pistorius. The two had been dating for only a few months.

    She was one of FHM magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the World for the past two years, appeared in international and South African advertisements and was to make her debut next week as a celebrity contestant on the reality TV show "Tropika Island of Treasure" filmed in Jamaica. She was also the South African face of Avon cosmetics. Police said the model was 30.

    The freckled blonde who appeared in scanty bikinis on magazine covers and sashayed down fashion ramps was "continuously breaking the model stereotype," said her publicist Sarit Tomlinson.

  • Men's basketball AP Top 25 02-12-13

    The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 10, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

  • Vonn Tears Ligaments in Knee, Out for Season